Cardiac autonomic neuropathy: A progressive consequence of chronic low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders

Nour Mounira Z. Bakkar, Haneen S. Dwaib, Souha Fares, Ali H. Eid, Yusra Al-Dhaheri, Ahmed F. El-Yazbi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN) is one of the earliest complications of type 2 diabetes (T2D), presenting a silent cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Recent research relates the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease in T2D to an ensuing chronic, low-grade proinflammatory and pro-oxidative environment, being the hallmark of the metabolic syndrome. Metabolic inflammation emerges as adipose tissue inflammatory changes extending systemically, on the advent of hyperglycemia, to reach central regions of the brain. In light of changes in glucose and insulin homeostasis, dysbiosis or alteration of the gut microbiome (GM) emerges, further contributing to inflammatory processes through increased gut and blood–brain barrier permeability. Interestingly, studies reveal that the determinants of oxidative stress and inflammation progression exist at the crossroad of CAN manifestations, dictating their evolution along the natural course of T2D development. Indeed, sympathetic and parasympathetic deterioration was shown to correlate with markers of adipose, vascular, and systemic inflammation. Additionally, evidence points out that dysbiosis could promote a sympatho-excitatory state through differentially affecting the secretion of hormones and neuromodulators, such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and γ-aminobutyric acid, and acting along the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone axis. Emerging neuronal inflammation and concomitant autophagic defects in brainstem nuclei were described as possible underlying mechanisms of CAN in experimental models of metabolic syndrome and T2D. Drugs with anti-inflammatory characteristics provide potential avenues for targeting pathways involved in CAN initiation and progression. The aim of this review is to delineate the etiology of CAN in the context of a metabolic disorder characterized by elevated oxidative and inflammatory load.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9005
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Cardiac autonomic neuropathy
  • Inflammation
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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